2nd century skeletons, statues unearthed

Syrian archaelogists have uncovered a 2nd century necropolis and statues in the central town of Palmyra, along with several skeletons, museum director Walid Assaad told AFP on Thursday.According to inscriptions on a 75cm by 60cm sculptured panel found there, the cemetery belonged to a pagan family. The tablet showed two people of Palmyra.

“The first, named Mallay, is wearing a military uniform and has a sword in his belt which he is holding by the hilt. The second, called Yadeh Bel, is wearing traditional Palmyran clothes,” Assaad quoted archaeologist mission leader Khalil Hariri as saying.

Besides the two figures portrayed on the tablet is a camel carrying a tent and being led by a child. The people would be “traders on the silk road”, he said. Palmyra, some 220 kilometres northeast of the Syrian capital, had a long history of being a stopping point of caravans travelling the silk road.

This culminated in the third century when Queen Zenobia, who defied the Roman Empire, controlled all Syria, and invaded Egypt and Asia Minor before being defeated in 272 by the Emperor Aurelian. Besides the necropolis and panel, the researchers found the bust of a Palmyran man, 60cm high and 55cm wide, and bearing the name Zubeiba, son of Shamune.

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